Consumer Health Digest #04-23
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
June 8, 2004
Internet-based medical schools will face increased scrutiny. The Federation of State Medical Boards will investigate ways to deal with the lack of accreditation standards for international medical schools. The investigation was stimulated mainly by concerns about Internet-based "medical schools" whose graduates have been applying for postgraduate positions and licenses in the United States. The issue gained attention in December 2003, when The Hartford Courant reported that hundreds of doctors nationwide acquired degrees from schools whose graduates are banned in several states because of questionable educational standards. The newspaper's series said inconsistent licensing rules among states allow about 900 doctors to practice here after graduating from schools that would probably not have been accredited in the United States. [Adams D. Federation to review foreign schools after educational standards are questioned. AMNews, June 7, 2004]
FTC hits two more infomercials. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has charged the marketers of "Supreme Greens with MSM" and "Coral Calcium Daily" with falsely claiming that their products can prevent and cure cancer and other diseases. The FTC's complaint states that Boston-area marketers Direct Marketing Concepts, Inc., ITV Direct, Inc., and Donald Barrett, along with their business partners, California corporations Healthy Solutions, LLC and Health Solutions, Inc., and their principals Alejandro Guerrero (a.k.a. Alex Guerrero), Michael Howell, and Greg Geremesz; and Wayne, Pennsylvania-based Triad ML Marketing, Inc., King Media, Inc., and Allen Stern, have sold "Supreme Greens with MSM" and "Coral Calcium Daily" to consumers through two widely-aired infomercials. The infomercial for Supreme Greens promoted it as a means to treat, cure, and prevent cancer and other diseases, and to cause significant weight loss. The infomercial for Coral Calcium Daily touted it as a means to treat and cure cancer and other diseases and as a superior form of calcium based on its purported bioavailability. The FTC further alleges that Direct Marketing Concepts, ITV, and Barrett failed to disclose that the infomercial promoting Supreme Greens is a paid commercial advertisement and not an independent television program, and that these defendants charged consumers' credit cards for automatic product shipments without authorization. [Marketers of "Supreme Greens" and "Coral Calcium Daily" come under fire from the FTC. FTC news release, June 3, 2004] In April, the FDA sent a warning letter to ITV.
Rogue dentist warned to stop marketing anti-SARS products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has ordered Leonard G. Horowitz, D.M.D., M.P.H. to stop making claims on healthyworlddistributing.com and cureforsars.net that "Urbani SARS Formula Nasal Spray," "Urbani SARS Formula (Standard)," "Extra Strength Urbani SARS Formula," and "Urbani SARS Formula Homeopathic (6X)" for preventing, curing or treating severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). [Breen CM. Warning letter to Dr. Leonard Horowitz, May 19, 2004] The Healthy World Distributing Site still claims that all four products are:
Scientifically formulated as a natural defense and effective treatment for coronavirus infections. These proprietary formulations contain these two types of Rosaceae plants proven to "completely inhibit" cell death from bovine coronavirus infections. The "Extra Strength" tincture and homeopathic also contains fresh wild-crafted Lomatium root extract and Devil's Club—both time-tested, effective, natural medicines for colds, flu and pneumonia.
Horowitz's Web site states that he practiced dentistry for 16 years, directed an "alternative medicine" center for 10 years, and now operates a publishing company. His writings claim that standard vaccinations are dangerous and that AIDS and Ebola viruses were "laboratory creations, accidentally or intentionally transmitted via tainted hepatitis and smallpox vaccines." In May 2003, in response to a warning from the Federal Trade Commission, Horowitz replied: "We do not recognize the FDA, or your 'commission' in collaboration with them, pursuant to this notice, as anything other than irresponsible, misplaced, and misdirected authority."
Dentist charged with unprofessional conduct for quack device usage. The Wisconsin Dentistry Examining Board has charged Richard Vander Heyden, D.D.S. with unprofessional conduct centered around the use of a device based on the principles of electroacupuncture according to Voll (EAV). The complaint states that Vander Hayden used an EAV device to diagnose and treat two patients for disorders in various parts of the body that are beyond the scope of his license to practice dentistry. EAV devices are fancy galvanometers that measure skin resistance, which has no relevance to medical or dental diagnosis. EAV devices lack FDA approval as diagnostic devices and have no legitimate value. [Barrett S. Dubious electrodiagnostic devices. Quackwatch, June 8, 2004]
SRAM resumes publication. The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine has resumed publication under a new publisher, Center for Inquiry, of Amherst, New York, which also publishes its sister journal, Scientific Review of Mental Health Practices. Both journals review articles and subjects containing erroneous, false, and pseudoscientific information in the scientific literature - material that has often passed ordinary peer review. The editors and staffs will also be developing methods for detection of erroneous and false material that can be used by editors of other journals to recognize misrepresentation. Subscriptions cost $60 for 1 year, $100 for 2 years, and $140 for 3 years in the U.S. and Canada and $10 more per year overseas.